When I started Feminism Friday, I did wonder if I would have something to write about every week. I really needn’t have worried my ‘pretty little head’ about it. Earlier this week, I popped out to grab a sandwich and found myself staring at a sea of women’s magazines, pondering whether or not I wanted something to read with my lunch. I decided against it in the end as, although Boots does great food, their choice of glossies really does leave something to be desired. I swiftly became both mesmerised and frustrated by the utter crap that some women seem happy to part with their cash for. As the feminist rage bubbled up inside, I tweeted one magazine’s cover lines: “Women’s faces destroyed by drugs! Career women too scared to have babies! Is your figure better than you think? Oh fuck off Marie Claire“. Apparently you should aspire to look great, have babies and currently be completely insecure to read this magazine. If the various replies and retweets I received that afternoon are anything to go by, I’m not the only one annoyed by this.
In a subsequent email discussion with my friend Jo, we picked at the nasty way society often encourages women to bond over hating themselves, and she said: “I do think that’s a pernicious trend in the general public way of addressing women, especially from advertisers – the ‘all girls together’, gosh aren’t we all insecure, wow I hate my bum, oh well I hate my ankles, blah blah etc”. Why do we have to be insecure to get along? Why are confident successful women seen as ‘bitches’? What’s with all the negativity? There is also the supposedly friendly way of addressing women as if we all experience life in exactly the same way. No, we don’t all ‘love a bad boy’ and, gasp, some of us can resist chocolate.
Mainstream media and advertising often treats women as though we’re all somehow identical, with collective hopes and dreams. Ooh, let’s all bond over these shared experiences that, as a gender, we surely all have! Well, guess what? We don’t. For a short while in my late 20s I began to wonder if society thought of me as a real woman at all. I didn’t want to be on a diet, liked looking at men and women, didn’t want to get married, didn’t want babies, wasn’t obsessed with shopping, and rather liked cars. Practically nothing that was designed to appeal exclusively to women appealed to me. Especially not the near constant negativity. Why can’t we bond over loving ourselves instead? Can’t we talk about music, movies, life, gadgets, politics, shoes and how fabulous we are? Hmm… perhaps that just doesn’t sell magazines.